ABUJA – Prof. Chinyere Ohiri- Aniche took a firm stance on Tuesday 25th to defend the approximately 400 Nigerian indigenous languages which are currently at risk of becoming extinct as a consequence of neglect and denigration. The comments were made in the framework of UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day Celebration, whose theme this year is “Local Languages for Global Citizenship: Spotlight on Science”.
Lost after Only Two Generations
Ohiri- Aniche added that various languages have already disappeared while 152 are in a very dangerous position. According to the expert, this is a direct consequence of both parents and teachers who are failing to pass on their own mother tongues to their children. Out of the total number of children below the age of eleven, 25 per cent cannot speak their parents’ mother tongue fluently. Should the trend continue, it would take only two generations, approximately 50 to 75 years, to see the extinction of Nigerian languages altogether.
Counteracting the Effects
To counteract the effects of the current situation, Ohiri- Aniche called on stakeholders, including educational institutions, telecommunication agencies, UNESCO and the media in general, to take action. She also encouraged parents to take action and speak to their children in their mother tongue so that they grow up knowing their own indigenous language and the culture it involves. Ohiri- Aniche stated that schools should be teaching indigenous languages throughout primary and secondary levels and that the Ministry of Education should make Nigerian languages a core subject during secondary education. Regarding culture, Ohiri- Aniche stated that the nation should promote entertainment activities in the indigenous languages to foment awareness.
National Language Policy Summit
Ultimately, the expert proposes the creation of a National Language Policy Summit to discuss the particulars of the linguistic situation and come up with a comprehensive national language policy. According to her, this is necessary in order to gather the support of the political groups and the general public alike, which she thinks of as the only way to revert the trends.